Basic math is one of the most important things that you can do in Excel, and it’s usually quite straightforward.
Adding is important because it is one of the ways you’ll start to work with some basic formulas. The SUM formula may not be the most advanced, but mastering it will help you wrap your head around the essential parts of formulas like COUNTIF and VLOOKUP. Here are a few tips on how to add in Excel.
How to add in Excel
First and foremost, every time you want to use a function or a formula in Excel you have to start with an equals sign (=). This is so that Excel knows that you want to use a function, and it saves time listing it as the first step repeatedly.
Method one: Adding within a cell
The easiest way to add numbers within a cell is to simply use the plus sign (+). Just use the basic format of =x+y and you’re already off and running. This is the easy method for your basic calculator functions.
Method two: Adding two cells with the plus sign
This is pretty much the same operation as adding within a cell but you refer to the numbers in cells instead of just writing the numbers. The basic formula that you’ll see in the picture below is this: =A2+A3. Then benefit of this method is that you can change what’s in the cells and your sum automatically updates.
Method three: The SUM function
Alright, now we’re cooking with gas. The SUM function is a good place to start with formulas because it’s fairly straightforward but there are a few ways to use it.
1. First, select your cell and navigate to the Formulas tab and click Insert Function.
2. Now you should see a Formula Builder menu on your screen. Select SUM from the menu.
3. Your Formula Builder should show two new boxes where you can enter numbers as well as a plus sign in a box if you need to add more values.
4. Finally, click Done and your sum will populate in the cell.
Method four: The SUM function without the Formula Builder
The SUM function is very easy and you’ll probably notice that you can leave the Formula Builder menu behind. Here’s how to type the formula and add two cells.
1. Start with your equals sign, write SUM, then add an opening parenthesis.
2. Now note your cells and separate each one with a comma. In our case, the formula is =SUM(A2, A3).
3. Hit enter and you should see your cell populate with the value.
4. This function can also be done with the format =SUM(first cell: last cell). Note the change from a comma to a colon between the cells you’re referencing. This works best when you have to add a greater number of cells. So using =SUM(A2:A7) in the example below adds up all the numbers between cell A2 and A7.
Related: How to create formulas in Excel
What else can I try?
There is something strangely satisfying about learning formulas in Excel. They’re an easy way to save time and get quick answers about your data. Mastering formulas is a gateway to mastering Excel, and if you’re ready to learn more it only takes a little bit of training.
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